(Netright Daily) Iceland is free. And it will remain so, so long as her people wish to remain autonomous of the foreign domination of her would-be masters — in this case, international bankers.
On April 9, the fiercely independent people of island-nation defeated a referendum that would have bailed out the UK and the Netherlands who had covered the deposits of British and Dutch investors who had lost funds in Icesave bank in 2008.
At the time of the bank’s failure, Iceland refused to cover the losses. But the UK and Netherlands nonetheless have demanded that Iceland repay them for the “loan” as a condition for admission into the European Union.
In response, the Icelandic people have told Europe to go pound sand. The final vote was 103,207 to 69,462, or 58.9 percent to 39.7 percent. “Taxpayers should not be responsible for paying the debts of a private institution,” said Sigriur Andersen, a spokeswoman for the Advice group that opposed the bailout.
A similar referendum in 2009 on the issue, although with harsher terms, found 93.2 percent of the Icelandic electorate rejecting a proposal to guarantee the deposits of foreign investors who had funds in the Icelandic bank. The referendum was invoked when President Olafur Ragnur Grimmson vetoed legislation the Althingi, Iceland’s parliament, had passed to pay back the British and Dutch.
Under the terms of the agreement, Iceland would have had to pay £2.35 billion to the UK, and €1.32 billion to the Netherlands by 2046 at a 3 percent interest rate. Its rejection for the second time by Iceland is a testament to its people, who feel they should bear no responsibility for the losses of foreigners endured in the financial crisis.
That opposition to bailouts led to Iceland’s decision to allow the bank to fail in 2008. Not that the taxpayers there could have afforded to. As noted by Bloomberg News, at the time the crisis hit in 2008, “the banks had debts equal to 10 times Iceland’s $12 billion GDP.”
“These were private banks and we didn’t pump money into them in order to keep them going; the state did not shoulder the responsibility of the failed private banks,” Iceland President Olafur Grimsson told Bloomberg Television.
The voters’ rejection came despite threats to isolate Iceland from funding in international financial institutions. Iceland’s national debt has already been downgraded by credit rating agencies, and now those same agencies have promised to do so once again as punishment for defying the will of international bankers.
This is just the latest in the long drama since 2008 of global institutions refusing to take losses in the financial crisis. Threats of a global economic depression and claims of being “too big to fail” have equated to a loaded gun to the heads of representative governments in the U.S. and Europe. Iceland is of particular interest because it did not bail out its banks like Ireland did, or foreign ones like the U.S. did.
If that fervor catches on amongst taxpayers worldwide, as it has in Iceland and with the tea party movement in America, the banks would have something to fear; that is, the inability to draw from limitless amounts of funding from gullible government officials and central banks. It appears that the root cause is government guarantees, whether explicit or implicit, on risk-taking by the banks.
Ultimately, such guarantees are not necessary to maintain full employment or even prop up an economy with growth, they are simply designed to allow these international institutions to overleverage and increase their profit margins in good times — and to avoid catastrophic losses in bad times.
The lesson here is instructive across the pond, but it is a chilling one. If the U.S. — or any sovereign for that matter — attempts to restructure their debts, or to force private investors to take a haircut on their own foolish gambles, these international institutions have promised the equivalent of economic war in response. However, the alternative is for representative governments to sacrifice their independence to a cadre of faceless bankers who share no allegiance to any nation.
It is the conflict that has already defined the beginning of the 21st Century. The question is whether free peoples will choose to remain free, as Iceland has, or to submit.
By Bill Wilson
Original at NetRightDaily.com: http://netrightdaily.com/2011/04/iceland-declares-independence-from-international-banks/#ixzz1RRzS1sey
(Pressenza) Since 2008 the vast majority of the Western population dream about saying “no” to the banks, but no one has dared to do so. No one except the Icelanders, who have carried out a peaceful revolution that has managed not only to overthrow a government and draft a new constitution, but also seeks to jail those responsible for the country’s economic debacle.
Pressenza Reikjavik, 3/28/11 Last week 9 people were arrested in London and Reykjavik for their possible responsibility for Iceland’s financial collapse in 2008, a deep crisis which developed into an unprecedented public reaction that is changing the country’s direction.
It has been a revolution without weapons in Iceland, the country that hosts the world’s oldest democracy (since 930), and whose citizens have managed to effect change by going on demonstrations and banging pots and pans. Why have the rest of the Western countries not even heard about it?
Pressure from Icelandic citizens’ has managed not only to bring down a government, but also begin the drafting of a new constitution (in process) and is seeking to put in jail those bankers responsible for the financial crisis in the country. As the saying goes, if you ask for things politely it is much easier to get them.
This quiet revolutionary process has its origins in 2008 when the Icelandic government decided to nationalise the three largest banks, Landsbanki, Kaupthing and Glitnir, whose clients were mainly British, and North and South American.
After the State took over, the official currency (krona) plummeted and the stock market suspended its activity after a 76% collapse. Iceland was becoming bankrupt and to save the situation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) injected U.S. $ 2,100 million and the Nordic countries helped with another 2,500 million.
Great little victories of ordinary people
While banks and local and foreign authorities were desperately seeking economic solutions, the Icelandic people took to the streets and their persistent daily demonstrations outside parliament in Reykjavik prompted the resignation of the conservative Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde and his entire government.
Citizens demanded, in addition, to convene early elections, and they succeeded. In April a coalition government was elected, formed by the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left Green Movement, headed by a new Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.
Throughout 2009 the Icelandic economy continued to be in a precarious situation (at the end of the year the GDP had dropped by 7%) but, despite this, the Parliament proposed to repay the debt to Britain and the Netherlands with a payment of 3,500 million Euros, a sum to be paid every month by Icelandic families for 15 years at 5.5% interest.
The move sparked anger again in the Icelanders, who returned to the streets demanding that, at least, that decision was put to a referendum. Another big small victory for the street protests: in March 2010 that vote was held and an overwhelming 93% of the population refused to repay the debt, at least with those conditions.
This forced the creditors to rethink the deal and improve it, offering 3% interest and payment over 37 years. Not even that was enough. The current president, on seeing that Parliament approved the agreement by a narrow margin, decided last month not to approve it and to call on the Icelandic people to vote in a referendum so that they would have the last word.
The bankers are fleeing in fear
Returning to the tense situation in 2010, while the Icelanders were refusing to pay a debt incurred by financial sharks without consultation, the coalition government had launched an investigation to determine legal responsibilities for the fatal economic crisis and had already arrested several bankers and top executives closely linked to high risk operations.
Interpol, meanwhile, had issued an international arrest warrant against Sigurdur Einarsson, former president of one of the banks. This situation led scared bankers and executives to leave the country en masse.
In this context of crisis, an assembly was elected to draft a new constitution that would reflect the lessons learned and replace the current one, inspired by the Danish constitution.
To do this, instead of calling experts and politicians, Iceland decided to appeal directly to the people, after all they have sovereign power over the law. More than 500 Icelanders presented themselves as candidates to participate in this exercise in direct democracy and write a new constitution. 25 of them, without party affiliations, including lawyers, students, journalists, farmers and trade union representatives were elected.
Among other developments, this constitution will call for the protection, like no other, of freedom of information and expression in the so-called Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, in a bill that aims to make the country a safe haven for investigative journalism and freedom of information, where sources, journalists and Internet providers that host news reporting are protected.
The people, for once, will decide the future of the country while bankers and politicians witness the transformation of a nation from the sidelines.
(guardian.co.uk) Grey clouds hang heavy in the skies as the scout troop marches into the cemetery, followed by a noisy brass band made up of scruffy teenagers in trainers and elderly men in suits. Behind them tramp hundreds of Reykjavik residents, many carrying Iceland’s flag.
The music stops, then the crowd gathers round as a woman in traditional dress places a large wreath on a grave. It is Independence Day, and people are here to honour the 200th anniversary of the man whose birth this day marks: Jón Sigurdsson, hero of the nation’s struggle for freedom from Danish control.
Overseeing it all is a burly man with a sharp haircut. People come up to greet him. Some take their photograph with him. He smiles, then chats to environmental campaigners carrying banners against political corruption, one of which features a picture of Jón Sigurdsson with a wordplay on his most famous slogan, changing “We all protest” to “We all puke”.
This is Jón Gnarr, the unlikely mayor of Iceland’s capital, who delivered a huge shock to the political system in the wake of the country’s financial meltdown. One year ago the comedian led a gang of ex-punks, poets and pop stars to control of city hall. They call themselves anarcho-surrealists and their aim is to transform politics. Read More
(socialistworker.org) FOR THE second time in two years, the people of Iceland have voted in a referendum against the repayment of Icelandic banks’ supposed debt to Britain and the Netherlands.
In response, the British and Dutch governments are preparing to sue the Republic of Iceland for the sum of 4 billion euros in an effort to win back money lost by their own citizens in failed Icelandic banks during the financial crash of 2008. But having failed in the court of public opinion, Britain and the Netherlands now intend to move into a regular courtroom, where judgments and the will of the people share a less cozy relationship.
Iceland’s Social Democratic prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir, has lamented the popular rejection of the government repayments, calling it the “worst option.” She predicts a stormy future for the nation’s economy.
Yet the debt itself is not rightly the people’s debt to repay. It’s the direct result of reckless practices by Icelandic banks, which offered tax breaks and other incentives to pull in huge investments from all over the world, but especially from Western Europe. But the Icelandic people know that all too well–which is why they’ve twice voted against covering the banks’ debts. Read more: http://socialistworker.org/2011/04/18/icelanders-refuse-to-pay
(csmonitor.com) Iceland volcano: the eruption of an Iceland volcano, Saturday, is larger than last year’s Eyjafjallajokull eruption that shut down air travel in Europe.
Iceland closed its main international airport and canceled all domestic flights Sunday as a powerful volcanic eruption sent a plume of ash, smoke and steam 12 miles (20 kilometers) into the air.
University of Iceland geophysicist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson said this eruption, which began Saturday, was Grimsvotn’s largest eruption for 100 years. Read more…
(RussiaToday) Iceland’s imposed a flight ban and closed its main airport after the country’s most active volcano, Grimsvotn, erupted. It lies under the uninhabited Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland and has been dormant for 7 years. A large plume of smoke and ash is stretching 20 km into the air. Iceland’s Meteorological Office says that the eruption at the Grimsvotn volcano has been accompanied by a series of small earthquakes. Scientists have been expecting a new eruption and have said previously that this volcano’s eruption will likely be small and should not lead to the air travel chaos caused in April 2010 by ash from the Eyjafjallajokul volcano.